Scholarship fund in honor of Scott Ferguson soars past expectations
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the celebration of life caterer.
Scores filed into CrossFit Breckenridge on a beautiful June day, their numbers so great, they had to go in waves.
One after another, more than 50 people dressed in tank tops, shorts, T-shirts and athletic apparel took turns doing as many rounds including five burpees, 20 renegade rows and 69 kettlebell swings as they could in 15 minutes.
A celebration of life for Scott Ferguson will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Silverthorne Pavilion. Food and drinks will follow the service for the community.
Altogether, organizers counted more than 50 people doing the workout with more than 100 showing up for the June 1 fundraising event. Set on the 10-year anniversary of the gym, the day and its corresponding workout were meant to honor the gym’s founder, David “Scott” Ferguson, who died earlier this year at age 49 following a bout with skin cancer.
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With so many people trying to get a workout in that day, the gym had to open the sliding garage doors, and with people spilling out into the alleyway with barbells in hand, it still wouldn’t be enough, so they had to take turns getting the “Coach Fergs” workout in.
Needless to say, turnout exceeded the organizers’ wildest imaginations, and the day was a show of community support for one of Breckenridge’s own, framed against the backdrop of a beautiful cause — helping nurses find their calling.
Gifts to a scholarship fund in Scott Ferguson’s name with the Colorado Anschutz Nursing Campus can be made online at Giving.cu.edu/fund/scott-ferguson-memorial-fund or by check payable to the CU Foundation, with “Scott Ferguson Memorial Fund” in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to University of Colorado Foundation, P.O. Box 17126, Denver, CO 80217.
“Honestly, the reason people were there was not like, ‘Oh, this is a great cause,’” said Dan Messinger, who knew Ferguson through CrossFit, bought the gym from him a few years ago and remained close friends with him.
“The reason people were there was because it was for Scott, and people knew Scott,” Messinger explained. “It was an absolute outpouring of love and support — love for the man they miss and support for something that was important to him.”
Messinger said he thinks the June 1 fundraisier was exactly what Ferguson would have wanted to happen at the gym, and it’s the kind of fundraiser that “would have put a smile on his face.”
Moreover, there will be a celebration of life for the community to remember Ferguson at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Silverthorne Pavilion, complete with drinks and free food from Mr. G’s Cuisine in Avon.
Scott Ferguson picked up a number of nicknames over his 49 years, including “Scott,” “Scotty,” “Ferguson,” or “Coach Fergs,” just to name a few. Ferguson brought CrossFit to Breckenridge when he opened the CrossFit Breckenridge, the town’s first gym of its kind, in 2008.
It might not seem like Ferguson, who made fitness his profession, should have fallen ill at such a young age, but he succumbed to one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, melanoma, on April 22.
With posts from his good days and bad, Ferguson’s journey is detailed through a blog at CaringBridge.org/visit/scottfergusoncolorado/journal that often offers thoughtful, reflective notes from Ferguson and his family. Throughout the whole ordeal, he never seemed to give up hope, and many of his comments appear to be meant to build up his friends and family over focusing on his condition.
“I was so very close to what I believed could be death,” Ferguson wrote for one of the blog posts. “I want everyone to know that, through all the things that we do in our life — including training our physical bodies to be strong — we must always remember that we are training our spirit to be equally as strong if not stronger. When we are in those dark times, if we stay connected to our spirit we have a greater chance of pulling through.”
Throughout the course of his treatment, Ferguson developed a close-knit relationship with the nurses who cared for him, and he respected their work so much he wanted to do something in return.
With that, a scholarship fund has been established in Ferguson’s name with the Colorado Anschutz Nursing Campus. The idea is that, with the money, someone who might want to go into nursing won’t hit financial barriers that prevent that person from finding his or her calling, his wife Darice explained.
With individual donations from people who knew Scott, his wife’s co-workers and the June 1 fundraiser at CrossFit Breckenridge, more than $53,000 has been raised so far to seed the fund.
Looking at that total, Darice said she’s absolutely ecstatic, as that amount has exceeded expectations, and she knows her late husband would be grateful for such an outpouring of support.
“You know, Scott loved the nurses; that’s all I can say,” Darice said. “He loved them, male and female. He just had so much appreciation for what they did for him — for the patience they had with him and the care they gave him — I think he’d just feel good that something positive came out of something negative.”
She said that money could give someone who might make a great nurse the chance to find his or her calling, especially given that the rising cost of education is becoming such a barrier, and that’s not something that would be lost at all on her husband, who she said put a much higher value on community than he ever did on money.
“Scott, much like many of the Summit County residents, he lived month to month, and he understood what it is like to struggle,” she said. “I think helping other people who are in that place of struggle make it, whether it’s nursing or anything else, would be the most meaningful to him.”
Additionally, Darice said that because her husband always felt such a deep sense of community, he was deeply affected by the 2015 Flight for Life helicopter in Frisco, like so many other people here were. She said he saw the pain that crash caused across the community, and that was likely another reason her husband wanted to do something to help nurses.
As for Ferguson’s nurses, finding out that he wanted to create the scholarship fund after the care they gave him was more than heartwarming, and they said that it just goes to show what kind of person Ferguson really was.
“To be honest with you, when I heard about it, it didn’t surprise me at all,” said Kelsey Pluemer, adding that Ferguson and his wife made providing his care easy, as they were realistic about his diagnosis but came into the fight with a huge network of support behind them.
“And then they built a community at the hospital with the staff around them,” she continued. “So when (Scott and Darice) told me that (setting up a scholarship) was the plan, I was not surprised at all … they are just amazing human beings.”
Everyone is welcome at Tuesday’s celebration of life at 3 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion, and gifts to a scholarship fund with the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus can be made online at Giving.cu.edu/fund/scott-ferguson-memorial-fund or by check payable to the CU Foundation, with “Scott Ferguson Memorial Fund” in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to University of Colorado Foundation, P.O. Box 17126, Denver, CO 80217.
If David Scott Ferguson’s wife, Darice, could put in one plug, she said it would be asking people to take better care of their skin, especially since she wonders if living so close to the sun in Breckenridge doesn’t come at a cost.
She’s quite right: The American Cancer Society has detected a number of risk factors elevating someone’s chances of developing a disease like melanoma, and one of primary causes is the sun’s ultraviolet light, of course.
With less atmosphere to travel through, UV radiation from sun is far greater the higher one goes in the atmosphere with more of its UV light reaching the earth’s surface at higher elevations than at sea level.
In fact, dermatologists warn that UV radiation levels are as much as 50% greater at 10,000 feet in elevation than they are at sea level. Additionally, UV light bounces off surfaces like water, sand or snow, which only adds to the risk in places like Breckenridge.
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